To my unsupportive husband,
I know you work so hard every day to support our family and I want you to know that I appreciate it. I respect you, and your job, but sometimes I feel like I don’t get that same respect back. I know that society has taught us to believe that photography is not a “real job”, so I’m not blaming you for thinking that way.
But I am asking you to change the way you think. My love of photography may have started out as a hobby, but I’m a professional photographer now. And even though my job doesn’t require me to put on a suit and go to an office every day, it is a real job. I value your opinion and as my husband, I need your support. I need you to believe in me.
Running a photography business isn’t easy. I need to invest in equipment and invest in training. I need to shoot in the evenings and on weekends sometimes. I won’t make a lot of money in the beginning. And I know it feels risky to invest our money in my photography, but I want you to know this isn’t just an expensive hobby that I’m going to get bored with in 6 months. This is a business.
I know you see me working hard to grow my business. I’ve learned how to create a website and I’ve learned how to shoot manual and how to pose and work with all sorts of clients, even newborns. I have set up an efficient workflow, made a business plan and customized legal contracts and policies for my business. I’m getting paid for my work and even though it’s not a lot of money just yet, I know I’m on the right track.
But when you make sarcastic comments about how I’m better at spending money on photography than making money doing photography, I feel irresponsible. When you use air quotes when you talk about my “photography business”, I feel humiliated. When you tell me we shouldn’t spend $700 for me to go to a workshop, I feel ashamed for mentioning it. When you tell me I should “just cancel that session” so we can make other plans, I feel disrespected.
I work just as hard as you do every day. Just because my job does not bring home a steady paycheck does not mean that it is any less important than yours. I know that’s not easy to hear. But it’s true. And it’s the root of all our problems involving my new business. I need your respect. I need your trust. I need your support. Without it, my business will never succeed.
Your Wife, the professional photographer
Letters From a Photographer is an original series by Design Aglow. Articles are meant to spark thought and conversation and be shared within our industry.
Have you seen Design Aglow Packaging in person yet? It doesn't disappoint! Just ask Shaunae of Shaunae Teske Photography. She shares, "Ever since the wonderful Meredith C. Bullock created my stunning hand-painted logo a couple years ago, I just love incorporating it into all my aspects of my business, including the tangible prints and products I offer. Over the last couple of weeks, I have been working with Design Aglow to replace all my old bags, boxes, and branding material with their gorgeous items. I just received my new gift bags and needless to say, I’m in LOVE!
The charcoal gray is beautiful, the soft fabric handles feel fabulous and the quality is impeccable! I’m SO impressed! These stunning gift bags come complete with my logo beautifully embossed in silver in the center. It may sound weird, but I just love seeing my logo in real life, not just online. Every time I deliver a bag full of photo goodies, it feels like a part of me is going out into the world! It’s an inexpiable, yet wonderful feeling. I’m thrilled to give my clients something that is almost as beautiful as their photos because they seriously rock! They deserve a wonderful experience and I would never want to give them anything less than my best!
My clients absolutely LOVE these bags! Every time they get one they don't want to open it because it looks so pretty! Even photographers love them and message me all the time asking where I received those bags."
Thanks for sharing, Shaunae! We love your approach and are so happy for your success. Enjoy your $75 shopping spree on us~
Have you created something awesome with Design Aglow products? Feel free to send us images here. If we feature it on the blog you’ll get a $75 shopping spree at Design Aglow!
Featured Contributor Kat Gill shares his early lessons learned in this installment of our “What I Wish I Knew” series, chronicling the mistakes and revelations creatives made during their first years in business. We hope you find inspiration (and we’re sure you’ll find some commiseration!) in these stories. Here are Kat's top tips to maintain a consistent brand.
Reflecting on my first year as a photographer, I distinctly remember all too often feeling that I wasn’t shooting what I wanted to be shooting, and despite how much my clients loved their photos—I myself, was not in love with what I was producing. I wasn’t attracting the kind of clients I wanted, and I definitely wasn’t in the driver’s seat when it came to my shoots. It was the all-too common story of insecurity and inexperience that I know many new photographers struggle with. But fortunately I’ve learned a ton over the last 7 years, and here’s one of the things I really wish I knew back then: The importance of maintaining a clear and consistent brand. Essentially— attracting the right clients for you, shooting them within your style, and sharing the photos afterwards with intention.
There’s so many aspects that go into this—from your editing style right down to your business cards, but I’m going to focus more on the ways to do this right from the time a client books you and then to the time right after the shoot.
Tip #1: As soon as a client books me for an engagement session, the first thing I do is email them an electronic Welcome Package that includes information to help them prepare. This PDF touches on the types of locations I prefer to shoot at, tips on what to wear, and makeup and hair stylists I recommend. Throughout the PDF, there are photo examples from some of my favorite past shoots that show off great locations, outfits and styling.
What I’ve come to learn is that most clients have no clue what they actually want and are really looking to me to guide them in the right direction. They love my work and depend on me to help them achieve the same kind of look and feel that they’ve fallen in love with. Leading up to the shoot date, I also encourage them to text me if they need any second opinions on their outfit selection. I used to fear this would be the worst idea ever (forecasted nightmares of 2am texts) but that’s never been the case luckily! I’ve instead found this to be a really great way to not only help steer my clients in the right direction with what will photograph best, but it’s also a nice way to start developing a more casual, friendly relationship with them. I think my clients also really appreciate the personal care I’m giving them and they feel that I’m committed to making sure their shoot goes just as well as they’re hoping it will.
Tip #2: Let’s now touch on the powers of social media and how you can turn it into your most effective marketing tool. More than ever, clients are using social media to discover and research everything.
In order to ensure that the right kind of clients are finding you, make sure that what you’re posting and sharing is geared towards showing what you love to shoot and what you’d like to shoot more of.
After every session, (even the trickier ones) I pick out my favorite couple of shots-- they can highlight anything from a great location, to creative composition, to what they were wearing, to the sweet way they were interacting. And when you’re not getting the kind of bookings you want, set up your own creative styled shoots. So many of my clients will reference shoots I’ve done and will use them as inspiration for their own shoot. A lot of thought is put into every teaser or blog post I share-- if it doesn’t represent what I want to be shooting, I don’t post it.
The objective here is consistency. Consistency breeds trust. You’re taking the guesswork and gamble out of it for them if they can see quickly by looking through your feed exactly what your style is. I’ve seen so many new photographers establish themselves quickly because they were able to recognize and apply this early in their careers.
Stay tuned for more Q&A posts from our wonderful contributing photographers.
Are you a contributor (or interested in becoming one) and would love a feature? Contact us here!
Design Aglow's Wedding Welcome Packet will leave you feeling assured that your studio will be see as one that realizes details and expertise is evident in every aspect of your business. Check out our Wedding Welcome Packets here!
We are excited to introduce a series of Q&A’s from some of our fabulous contributors. These blog posts will include 5 questions and showcase some of the artist’s recent work. Are you a contributor (or interested in becoming one) and would love a feature? Contact us here!
Today we are pleased to feature Lilli Waters from I Got You Babe Enjoy ~
Q: Tell us about your studio, style and approach:
A: My studio (Castor & Pollux) is a little shared space that I started off with two photographer mates two years ago, and since then has welcomed some other talents, such as a designer, illustrator & painter.
My style of personal and wedding work differ, but my wedding work is a mix of documentary with whimsical & romantic notions. My approach is non intrusive and my intent is to capture the real 'in between' moments rather than create perfect poses.
Q: If you had to sum up your style in 1-2 sentences, what would you say.
A: My work is on the documentary, whimsical side of the wedding photography fence, looking for the intimate 'in between' moments, searching for light and beauty In unusual places, rather than traditional.
Q: How do you ensure you have a sustainable business?
A: As a single business owner, you need to make sure that your work is seen. Most of my bookings come from word of mouth, Instagram and bridal blogs. I think it's important to share your best work online and submit your work to blogs that suit your style, which can help you to get the clients that you want.
Q: What are your best selling products? do you sell in person?
A: My best selling products is my wedding photography packages and art books. I'm not really into being a salesman, clients choose their own packages based on their needs and a discount is offered for art books purchased when booking a package.
Q: What are your top 3 tips for success?
A: Three top tips to success? Hard work, good attitude, and hard work!
~ Stay tuned for more Q&A posts from our wonderful contributing photographers.
To see more of Lilli Waters work, visit her at igotyoubabe.com.au.
It’s that time of the year to implement your business goals for success in the new year. And I think we can all agree that eliminating all business problems and disagreements with clients is a worthy goal. While we can’t promise you’ll never experience another issue again, we have created a simple set of best practices that will likely help prevent 99% of potential business problems. If that sounds like exactly what you need in 2016, keep reading for our ten best tips.
Pre-qualify your clients
You’re bound to create problems for yourself if your clients don’t know how much they have to invest in your photography before they hire you. We understand why you may be uncomfortable listing your pricing right on your website. If you’re not going to make your pricing publicly available on your website, you need to make sure that you share your pricing with each new inquiry during your first conversation, whether that’s over email or phone. You can also pre-qualify new clients with your contact form… simply ask them to share their story or share why they like your photography.
Bottom line: You want to work with clients who value your artistic eye and are willing to invest in your photography. Pre-qualify new clients before they hire you and you’ll eliminate so many problems down the road.
Pay attention to red flags
You know that feeling in your gut that says “do not take this job! run away from this client!”? That’s called a red flag, friends. When a client emails you twenty times a day or tries to negotiate your prices or bullies you into accepting terms you don’t feel comfortable with… these are not the kind of clients you want to be working with. And we know it can be so tempting to take on these jobs… maybe you could use the extra money or you’ve always wanted to work with a specific vendor or shoot a destination wedding. But there’s a reason we get that sinking feeling in our gut and it’s because we know these clients will cause more trouble than they’re worth.
Bottom line: Nightmare clients will actually cost you in time, money and emotional well being, so just say no. It’s okay to turn down a job that doesn’t feel right you. In fact, it’s just good business. Pay attention to red flags and follow your gut. It never lies.
Create solid studio policies
Oftentimes, we create potential problems for ourselves because we don’t have proper policies in place ahead of time. We can’t always think of every possible scenario ahead of time, so when it takes a portrait client three years to order their album, there are bound to be problems. You’ve changed album companies, prices have gone up, you no longer offer a specific album cover… These things happen in a business, but your client will not be happy about it. Creating solid studio policies helps you avoid misunderstandings when situations like this arise.
Bottom line: Having professional studio policies in place will help you eliminate problems by communicating guidelines and expectations ahead of time. Need help getting started? Our Essential Portrait Studio Policies for Success has everything you need to get effective policies in place immediately.
Utilize legal contracts
It’s an industry standard to use a contract when you’re hired to photograph a wedding, but many photographers don’t bother with contracts for portrait sessions, birth photography, commercial jobs and associate shooters. Things go wrong and miscommunication happens, but having an iron-clad legal document with your terms and policies written out will help you decide what to do when that happens.
Bottom line: Legal contracts not only protect you, they spell out the terms of your agreement in precise language, which helps eliminate any disagreements on what happens next. Get your contracts up to speed and incorporate them into your workflow for every session and client you take on.
We can’t say enough about proper communication. So many easily avoidable client problems start with poor communication. Explain the process of working with you, let your clients know the timeline of your workflow and make sure you communicate any issues and delays with them right away. Our clients are people just like us and they will understand that sometimes life happens, especially if you have made the effort to develop a professional and respectful relationship from the get-go. Editing takes longer than expected, prints get damaged in the mail and sometimes you put the wrong image in an album and have to send it back to be corrected. If you let your clients know what's going on and keep them updated, you will avoid a host of extra problems and upset clients.
Bottom line: Keeping your clients in the loop doesn't take much time but it has a huge impact on their satisfaction level and the amount of problems you have to deal with. If you struggle with what to say when something goes wrong, our Studio Success Guide on Client Communications will be your new best friend.
If the phrase ‘under promise, over deliver’ comes to mind when you think of exceeding expectations, you’re on the right track. We create unnecessary problems for ourselves when we can’t keep up with the timeline we’ve given to our clients. We can exceed expectations by delivering edited images and finished products ahead of schedule or by sending a handwritten note or prints of our favorite images.
Bottom line: When you make ‘going above and beyond’ a staple of the way you do business, you will have happier clients and fewer problems.
Sell quality products
The saying goes ‘you get what you pay for’ and we couldn’t agree more. You’ve worked hard to position your brand as high quality, so it follows that you should sell high quality products to your clients. Selling cheap products to boost your profit margins will come back to haunt you later and trust us, the extra money you’d make today isn’t worth the problems and reputation damage it will create down the road. See our post on selling quality products here.
Bottom line: Nothing will upset your customers more than seeing the products they purchased from you fade, warp and fall apart. Sell only high quality products and you’ll never have to worry about problems with them or, your reputation for excellence.
Keep your business legal
We know that filing your business license every year, collecting and remitting sales tax, completing accurate bookkeeping each month, paying quarterly tax estimates and all the other things you are required to do to run your business are probably your least favorite things to do. But they also happen to be the most important tasks, so do not skip out on them.
Bottom line: Not paying your taxes or filing a business license will cause you way more problems (and headaches) than anything else in your business. If you absolutely can’t sit down and get these things done, hire a CPA to do it for you.
The answer is not always ‘more’. Shooting 48 weddings a year or 72 senior session in one season might mean more money in your bank account, but it will probably also mean you’re burned out. And you can’t do your best work or give excellent service when you’re that burned out. You’ll make more mistakes, be more forgetful and create more problems for yourself.
Bottom line: If you’re burned out at the end of busy season, you took on too much work. Adjust your goals accordingly for the next busy season. And, consider raising your prices to work less and make more.
We all have tasks that we really don’t like to do. It might be bookkeeping or color correction or answering emails… or all of the above. It takes a lot of work to run a business and one thing we’ve learned over the years is that we can’t do it all… unless we want to work 80 hours a week. Often times, the very tasks we dread the most cause us the most problems, simply because we put them off.
Bottom line: Outsource your least favorite tasks and you’ll have more time for taking photos… and you’ll eliminate all of the issues that arise when you procrastinate.